Nau mai haere mai, welcome to this week’s newsletter.

Three years ago, the New Zealand government introduced a new scheme to offer wider access to therapeutic cannabis products for people suffering long-term and debilitating illnesses. But as Victoria University’s Fiona Hutton explains, the vast majority of people this scheme was supposed to help are still struggling to obtain legally prescribed cannabis products.

According to Hutton, “Problems include the cost of prescribed cannabis products and the reluctance of GPs to prescribe them, alongside the complex regulatory and compliance scheme accompanying the new law.”

Struggling New Zealanders are being left to suffer, take prescribed painkillers that have their own side effects, or access cannabis illegally via green fairies or other illicit channels.

Hutton argues it is time to reconsider how we treat therapeutic cannabis products and move to an approach seen in Europe where some cannabis-based therapies can be bought without a prescription.

There’s more to read here and on our homepage, including a fascinating look into Top Gun: Maverick’s obsession with it’s former self, and a timely reminder that New Zealand needs to put its money where its mouth is when it comes to increasing assistance in the Pacific region in the face of Chinese expansion.

Until next time, take care and mā te wā.

Debrin Foxcroft

Deputy Editor, New Zealand – The Conversation Australia & New Zealand

Cannabis for therapeutic use is still out of reach for many sick New Zealanders, despite changes in the law

Fiona Hutton, Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington

Medicinal cannabis products were made legal in New Zealand in 2020. But high costs and widespread reluctance from doctors means many sick people are still accessing cannabis illegally.

Judy Garland at 100: more than just a star, Garland shaped the modern movie musical

Gregory Camp, University of Auckland

Most of Garland’s films are strikingly void of musical numbers that exist purely for their own sake. Her talents as an actor and singer would shape the movie musical for decades.

To meet the Chinese challenge in the Pacific, NZ needs to put its money where its mouth is

Alexander Gillespie, University of Waikato

New Zealand – like Australia – must increase its overseas aid spending if it is serious about matching China’s ambitions in the South Pacific.

Top Gun: Maverick is a film obsessed with its former self

Erin Harrington, University of Canterbury

We are repeatedly told superior technology is one thing, but it’s not the plane that’s important in this film. It’s the (American) pilot and their instincts.

Has lowering the drinking age caused more crime? Despite ongoing concern, the evidence isn’t clear cut

Alexander Plum, Auckland University of Technology; Christopher Erwin, Auckland University of Technology; Kabir Dasgupta, Auckland University of Technology

When the drinking age was lowered to 18 In 1999, critics warned it would cause an increase in alcohol-fuelled crime. But as changing the age limit is debated again, the evidence is mixed.

Could Australia’s new independent and Green MPs be key to better trans-Tasman relations?

Jennifer Curtin, University of Auckland

The success of independents at the Australian election is a sign the political culture has shifted in Canberra, with potential benefits for expat New Zealanders and trans-Tasman relations in general.

From our foreign editions

‘Accidental Napalm’ turns 50: the generation-defining image capturing the futility of the Vietnam war

Chari Larsson, Griffith University

June 8 marks the 50-year anniversary since Associated Press photographer Hyung Cong ‘Nick’ Út captured one of the Vietnam War’s defining images.

A new book argues Julian Assange is being tortured. Will our new PM do anything about it?

Matthew Ricketson, Deakin University

The UN’s Special Rapporteur on Torture has investigated the ongoing persecution of Assange and his conclusions are damning.

How great white sharks outsmarted the massive megalodon to first rule the oceans, 3 million years ago

Nicholas Ray, Nottingham Trent University

As the oceans warmed, great whites were more adaptable.

Boris Johnson: what the result of the confidence vote means for the PM and the Conservative Party

Paul Whiteley, University of Essex

With 40% of his MPs voting against his leadership, how realistic are the prime minister’s hopes for survival?

Long-standing systems for sustainable farming could feed people and the planet — if industry is willing to step back

Philip A Loring, University of Guelph

Industry seeks to capitalize on regenerative agriculture, but standards that focus only on carbon or other select environmental metrics will undermine its transformative potential

Queen Elizabeth II: a reign that saw the end of the British empire in Africa

Roger Southall, University of the Witwatersrand

The decolonisation process was to take place rapidly during the reign of Elizabeth II.

Therapy on the go: Mildly depressed or simply stressed, people are tapping apps for mental health care

Lauri Goldkind, Fordham University

How do mental health apps compare to in-person therapy? A social worker and expert on technology and human services explains.

There are historical and psychological reasons why the legal age for purchasing assault weapons does not make sense

Ashwini Tambe, George Washington University

The shooters in the Buffalo and Uvalde massacres were both 18, and legally purchased assault rifles. This is fueling calls to raise the age when someone can purchase this weapon from 18 to 21.